A number of popular handguns can be equipped with an optional .22 LR conversion kit to let you also shoot the more economical double deuce. However, the cost of the conversion, depending on the gun, is frequently on the steep side. Some — again it depends on the gun — are more involved than others, even requiring a replacement slide.
The question: is it worth it?
On a cost basis, that will depend on how much you shoot and how long you’ll own the gun. Let’s say for the sake of argument that a .22 conversion slide for your 9mm pistol costs you $300. You take the 9mm slide off, pop the .22 slide on and you’re off to the races. Let’s also say you buy $50 worth of .22 magazines while you’re at it.
That’s $350 all-in to get you .22-ready.
A box of 50 .22 LR ammo costs $5 or less for a box of 50. The cheapest box of 50 of 9mm is usually about $10 or a little more. Granted, many people can bring the per-round cost down by buying in bulk, but even then, the .22 is still vastly more economical. A brick of 500 .22 is $20 to $25 (depending) but a 500-round box of 9mm is about five to seven times that amount; usually between $120 to $150.
So you’re basically saving about $100 for every 500 rounds. A $350 conversion is therefore paid off in fewer than 2,000 rounds. Depending on how much you shoot…that can go pretty quickly.
But does it make sense as a practical matter? Should you use a .22 conversion to practice with your carry gun?
On one hand, you should practice with ammunition that mirrors your carry load. If you shoot 230-grain JHP in your .45, you should practice with 230-grain ball. If you carry 147-grain 9mm JHP…you get the idea. That way you train the way you (hope you’ll never have to) fight. You’ll know how the gun recoils and can practice follow-up shots accordingly.
On the other hand, you can drill the mechanics of shooting and accuracy with a .22 LR a whole lot more often (let’s face it, the cost of ammo affects how much we shoot). That includes your draw, aim, trigger pull, reloads, follow-up shots – all will get drilled far more often. As a result, your muscle memory will be honed that much more with your carry gun.
But you’ll still need to do some shooting with your carry gun in its normal caliber to keep you acclimated to your actual carry round.
So in the end, when considering whether a .22 conversion makes sense, it depends. If you shoot often enough, you can save yourself some real dinero with a conversion and you may very well practice more often. Just be sure to practice with the real stuff from time to time, too.
Is a .22 conversion worth it to you on that basis? Or should you just accept the cost of your EDC gun’s ammo and do the training you can using what you’ll carry?